‘We’re not dead as a party’: Michael

James
James McLeod
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NDP leader says it’s business as usual after this year’s caucus revolt

It was a “major bump.”    
It was a “twist.”
It was a “difficult moment.”
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael has a lot of ways to describe the disastrous week for her party in October, when her four fellow MHAs sent a letter asking her to resign, and then a messy caucus revolt played out in the media, culminating with two of her MHAs leaving the caucus.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael speaks to reporters in the House of Assembly in this file photo. Michael met with Telegram reporter James McLeod for a year-end interview that touched on the party’s wins and losses in 2013. — Telegram file photo

“Obviously, it was a strange year,” Michael said at the start of her year-end interview with The Telegram.

A year ago the NDP was leading in some polls and political watchers were speculating about the possibility of the first-ever New Democrat government in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year, when Michael was asked whether she still believes the NDP 

has any chance of winning the 2015 election, she said she doesn’t know.

“I think anything is possible in politics. I really do, and I’m not playing a game when I say that to you,” Michael said.

“All we can do is do what has to be done, and then we’ll find out in 2015 what the damage really was.”

Between now and then, she said, anything can happen.

“We’re not dead as a party, we’re far from it,” Michael insisted. “Anything can change momentum.”

All they can really do, Michael said, is keep on keeping on, and just plug away, questioning the government and talking about their core issues.

Michael pointed to two pieces of legislation this fall in the House of Assembly — adding transgender to the province’s human rights code, and amending the traffic laws to make it mandatory for motorists to move over to make way for emergency vehicles.

Both those pieces of legislation appeared to be in response to persistent criticism from MHAs Gerry Rogers and George Murphy.

The NDP had been vocally critical of oil development using fracking, calling for a moratorium on it until the government could study the issue in depth; this fall, Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley announced he’d be doing exactly that.

Since the caucus revolt, Michael has spent a lot of time in the House of Assembly talking about bread-and-butter NDP issues, such as labour, the minimum wage and social programs.

Speaking to The Telegram, Michael said she’ll continue pushing hard for a better government home-care program and child care.

“I’m going to keep hammering on the need for child care and the need for child care and early childhood education to be a package,” she said.

“This government refuses to see that social programs that are necessary for people are also economic indicators, because they are.”

Michael spoke to The Telegram just days after Premier Kathy Dunderdale unveiled the terms of financing for Muskrat Falls, and announced that the deal to develop the hydroelectric project is signed, sealed and delivered.

Michael is maintaining the same position she’s taken on the project: that she doesn’t know if it’s economically viable or not.

In fact, Michael told The Telegram that she won’t be able to take a position on whether Muskrat Falls is a good project or not, potentially, for decades.

“We’ve never had enough information to make the determination that it’s economically viable,” she said. “We may not know until 20 years’ time that this has been a major error. We may know in five years’ time. I don’t know. “

She said she won’t be able to assess whether it’s a good project until she knows what the final price of electricity will be, which won’t be until after the dam is built and any cost overruns have been tabulated.

She said the only way she’d be able to assess whether the province should be developing the project is if Dunderdale “would admit to a lot of stuff that we don’t even know about yet.”

Michael says she’s firmly focused on the 2015 election, but in the new year, she’ll first be facing a leadership review in May.

She said she’s not putting any firm number on what sort of vote from the party membership she feels she needs to get to stay on as leader.

Leadership reviews often rely on a two-thirds confidence vote for a leader to stay on, but Michael said she’s not going to place any firm thresholds for herself.

“I’m not worrying about the number; I’m in the present. I’m doing what I have to do. We’ll deal with that when it happens,” she said. “At this point, I don’t want to play a numbers game. I mean, we could play a numbers game and look at the fact that Dwight Ball got 59 per cent of the vote. Should he be the leader of his party?”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: NDP

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Recent comments

  • The Flaw In Her Logic
    December 27, 2013 - 15:09

    She says at the end of the article that Dwight Ball only received 59% of the vote when he won the Liberal leadership and that number shoukd be good enough. The flaw in her comparison is that Ball was in a 5 way race. The question before the NDP is Lorraine Micael suitable to lead the party. Completely different process.

  • clay
    December 27, 2013 - 11:52

    Loraine you still got 2 back stabbers leftall the hard work you done Kirby was the ring leadergeorge help along they are one term polithings.

  • Randy
    December 27, 2013 - 11:27

    She thinks she can hang on with less than 60% in a leadership review. That should tell you how far she will go to hang on and drag the NDP down with her. There is no way the NDP will get a full slate of candidates with Michaels leading it in 2015

  • Jerry in Gander
    December 27, 2013 - 11:09

    She is living in a dream world. I didn't see a great deal wrong with the letter asking for a leadership review, little tacky the way it was done but the follow up by Michael how she roared about being stabbed in the back and betrayal showed that this party will never have a chance while she is a member of it.

  • KIlgore Trout
    December 27, 2013 - 11:05

    I've only ever voted NDP provinically, but I will not be voting for the party until all of the current crop of MHAs are shown the door. These people can't even keep their party affairs in order and then they expect us to trust them to lead our government?

  • Jeff
    December 27, 2013 - 10:09

    Like it or not, the NDP is the only alternative to the business run and financed parties of the right. For me, policies come ahead of the cult of the personality.

  • saelcove
    December 27, 2013 - 09:52

    Henry, Williams is the reason stunderdale is in so much trouble where have you been

  • Henry
    December 27, 2013 - 09:41

    The NDP have as much chance as the Progressive Conservatives of getting elected in the next election.. Loraine Michaels your party has lost its best chance of getting elected and Kathy Dunderdale is still in denial about her party's popularity over recent decisions of Muskrat Falls, the huge deficit she caused and pubic service cuts. Its a no brained Liberals will win hands down? Time to change the government, they are two comfortable and need to be taught a lesson. I must say not the same government once under Danny Williams

  • Henry
    December 27, 2013 - 09:19

    The NDP have as much chance as the Progressive Conservatives of getting elected in the next election.. Loraine Michaels your party has lost its best chance of getting elected and Kathy Dunderdale is still in denial about her party's popularity over recent decisions of Muskrat Falls, the huge deficit she caused and pubic service cuts. Its a no brained Liberals will win hands down? Time to change the government, they are two comfortable and need to be taught a lesson. I must say not the same government once under Danny Williams

  • Don
    December 27, 2013 - 09:11

    And i bet she believes in Santa Claus.

  • Party of One
    December 27, 2013 - 08:28

    The problems of the NDP now go further than Ms. Michael. Even Snook mocked George Murphy's bawling antics this week. Executive members have resigned. None of this is good for our party. The okd NDP, the Rubber Bbot Crowd, will never form a government here. A progressive NDP, kike the one Thomas Mulcair leads bridges the party to a broder appeal.

    • Jay
      December 27, 2013 - 11:57

      There is no doubt the NDP are in trouble, but Snook is hardly a credible source. He probably doesn't want people to remember, but his alter ego ran for the Liberals twice when they were at their right wing best. If he's going to start campaigning, he should do it honestly rather than hiding behind his stupid , worn-out comedy routines. But then he wouldn't be able to pretend he's one of the rubber boot crowd.

    • Jay
      December 27, 2013 - 11:59

      There is no doubt the NDP are in trouble, but Snook is hardly a credible source. He probably doesn't want people to remember, but his alter ego ran for the Liberals twice when they were at their right wing best. If he's going to start campaigning, he should do it honestly rather than hiding behind his stupid , worn-out comedy routines. But then he wouldn't be able to pretend he's one of the rubber boot crowd. On a separate issue, why is it so hard to get a post validated on this site. Could the Telegram, please have a look at this?

  • bob
    December 27, 2013 - 07:05

    The party that can have a party with one bottle of wine. Seasons Greetings

  • Pauline
    December 27, 2013 - 06:34

    Ms Michael don't worry about its, Not only are the NDP in disarrays , So are the liberals, Like the articles by Mr James McLeod wrote back on Dec 16/2013, about Mr Dwight Ball, always screaming about the PCS not been transparent with the people. Who are they to talk?

    • Corporate Psycho
      December 27, 2013 - 08:03

      ?? Dunderdale is the one who passed Bill 29.

  • picky
    December 27, 2013 - 05:16

    Ms Michael knows her days are numbered and it's time for her to bite the bullet and make a graceful exit.